President Donald Trump said North Korea is ‘as reassured as they can feel’ following threats issued this week between the White House and North Korea. (August 11)
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — As President Trump ramps up his bellicose rhetoric toward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, leaders and ordinary citizens across Asia are watching with various states of alarm, unsure which man poses a greater danger to their safety.
In Seoul, the capital of South Korea, where the specter of a North Korean attack has hung over the population’s head for decades, many say they aren’t particularly concerned about the escalating threats coming from the North Korean government, which has long menaced its next-door neighbor.
The metropolitan area of Seoul is home to 25 million people and remains vulnerable not just to a nuclear attack from North Korea but to a strike from the massive buildup of conventional artillery at the border just 35 miles away.
Hong Ji-eun, 28, an assistant marketing manager, said that the latest provocations don’t worry her. “North Korea has been threatening us every day, but we know from experience that the so-called potential threats didn’t really cause anything,” she said. “I believe it’s really similar to asking a Japanese person, ‘How could you live with all the potential earthquakes?’”
She said that Kim poses the greater risk to their safety than Trump because she believes the U.S. will ultimately act rationally. “North Korea is a somewhat isolated country, capable of making decisions that would seem irrational in our sense, which can bring devastating consequences,” she said.
Bae Sung-huyn, 28, a PhD candidate at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, agreed that North Korea’s chronic provocations have made him insensitive to rising tensions. But he added that as a dictator, Kim has the capacity to act with more autonomy than Trump.
“Kim Jong-un worries me a lot more,” he said. “Trump is warning North Korea of possible retaliatory actions for North Korea’s threats and attacks. The president does have a lot of authority; however, he cannot perform such a big issue on his own. It worries me that Kim Jong-un’s actions have been somehow much more impulsive than his father,…